JONATHAN HOBBS Friday: A big weekend of top-class racing kicks off at Romford tonight with the Coral Essex Vase gala.

A card full of quality includes a host of finals topped off by the £10,000 Essex Vase final, one of the most famous and longstanding competitions in the sport. Always competitive, this year is no different – although Newcastle trainer Angela Harrison holds a strong hand with the two Coolavannys, Bani and Aunty.

The Essex Vase final is chiefly supported by the Coral Maiden, a new Category Two event, but a full batch of supporting opens make up another superb Friday night card at the London Road venue – so let’s have a lot a the pick of the bets.


6.43: Long Phoenix catches the eye in this heat two of a maiden 400m event. The former Romford runner signed off with a fluent A4 victory at the track earlier this month and looks to make it a debut victory for new handler Mark Fenwick after a decent Central Park trial.

Play: Long Phoenix

6.58: Corrin Logan missed the up in the semis of the Coral Maiden last week but could get back on track in this Winner Of One event. Dave Lee’s dog flew to a 23.97sec in the heats and looked a potential competition winner. A slick exit gets him back on track here.

Play: Corrin Logan

7.18: Nathan Hunt will be hoping for a good night with Dapper Rodney going in the Vase and things could get off to a decent start with Zoomey Saoirse in this bitches race. The trap four runner gets a wider draw than usual but can ping-start and is quick in the clear.

Play: Zoomey Saoirse

7.36: Nolas Beauty and Any Moment Now do battle again and the former could confirm the form. It’s a rare midfield pitch for the black jacket but a fast start should set up a lead and she might not be pegged back in this maiden 575m contest for Michelle Brown.

Play: Nolas Beauty

8.17 The first of the open-race finals now and Drahan Jet could lead the way for Seamus Cahill, who also has Pocket Elvis here. Both won their heats well but will need to be at their sharpest to beat the likes of Icaals Rocco and Russian Blake. The former beat the latter in last week’s heats, but the white-boxed runner won well himself despite a missed break so has scope for even better with a sharper exit. Could he make it three-from-three?

Play: Drahan Jet

8.38: The Coral Maiden Final now and the vote goes the way of Zari Rosie for Yarmouth’s Paul Burr. Burr is a regular visitor to Romford and enjoys plenty of success so many will fancy him sealing the deal with this early-paced bitch. The draw inside speedy Lesson In Life requires a fast start but a quick semi-final time shows what she can do off the front. Victory for Drahan Jet in the previous race would frank the form after a recent clash between the pair.

Play: Zari Rosie

8.54: Time for the Coral Essex Vase Final and the Newcastle pair of Coolavanny Aunty and Coolavanny Bani could make it a north-east one-two should the race be run to suit. Both are top-class performers. However Dapper Rodney might represent value to strike for the locals. Nathan Hunt’s runner is a superb front-running sort and, while others arrive quicker on the clock, the best place to be at Romford is off the front and that’s where Dapper Rodney might well be – despite the alien trap five draw. A ping-start is needed but getting first run on the Coolavannys is possible – and key. Both are good enough if close enough, however, and a Harrison-trained one-two is not beyond the realms!

Play: Dapper Rodney

Good luck all.